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Chechnya played Brazil in a football friendly

09 march 2011, 01:56
AFP© Dmitry Kostyukov
AFP© Dmitry Kostyukov
A team from Chechnya on Tuesday took on former stars from Brazil in an improbable football friendly played at the heart of Russia's Caucasus, AFP reports.

The Chechnya team was personally "captained" by the region's leader Ramzan Kadyrov, while the Brazilian team included 1994 World Cup winners like Bebeto and Dunga.

The venue in Chechnya's main city Grozny was the stadium of ambitious local side Terek Grozny.

The game was played amid a frenetic atmosphere with the 10,000-capacity stadium bursting to the seams despite a heavy security presence, with Brazil playing in their traditional blue and yellow strip.

Given the political symbolism of the game, the result was something of an irrelevance with the Chechen side happy to limit themselves to a 6-4 defeat thanks to some generous tactics by the Brazilians.

It seemed almost inevitable that Kadyrov would score and after squandering two penalties in the first half hour, the Brazilian defenders all but helped him find the goal, to a delirious reaction from the Chechen fans.

Donning the captain's armband and the number 10 shirt, Kadyrov also managed to finally score a penalty in the second half.

Kadyrov is hoping to use the match to promote his mountainous fiefdom as a haven of stability which overcame two separatist wars after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"I like Brazilian football very much, I like the way they play," he told reporters ahead of the game, saying he wanted to make the match a "present" to Chechen football fans.

The Chechen strongman attracted a galaxy of stars even if predictions by officials that they would include 2002 World Cup winners Kaka, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos turned out to be premature.

But Kadyrov somehow mustered much of Brazil's 1994 World Cup champions side including Romario, Bebeto, Elber, Cafu and Dunga. For his own side, he enlisted the talents of German legend Lothar Matthaeus.

"It's a great pleasure to welcome the Brazil team, I have been dreaming of this," said local Mansur Khalayev, a Grozny suppprter for the past quarter century.

Kadyrov, 34, earlier expressed his astonishment at the very thought that the Brazilians were being paid for the game.

"Why do we need to pay them? This is the first time that I hear this. They are the ones who proposed coming," he added.

He proudly told reporters he had undergone a rigorous fitness regime in order to be ready for the match, shedding up to 10 kilos in weight.

The football clubs of the Caucasus have shown themselves to be not short of ambition, with Terek Grozny snapping up Dutch legend Ruud Gullit as coach and Dagestan's Anzhi Makhachkala signing former Brazilian fullback Roberto Carlos.

By Benoit Finck

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